Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hair of the Dog

My dog Charlie was rescued a few years ago from my local animal shelter. He is a redheaded, freckled Australian Cattle Dog, a being who needs to herd, corral and dominate. Charlie and I get along famously. There are a few problems with this relationship, however. One: Charlie thinks HE is in charge. Two: He thinks all food is HIS food. Three: His shedding fur is taking over my universe.

Now Charlie has his charming attributes. He is very friendly and has adapted well to this household of "other dogs/cat/teenagers/noise/unpredictability." According to the report from the animal shelter, he was previously owned by an old man who died. I was a volunteer dog trainer at the shelter at the time and I remember Charlie as a severely overweight dog who walked slow and breathed heavily. When the man died, his family (not interested in taking Charlie on themselves) placed him in the care of the shelter. His friendly disposition endeared him to the staff, and he quickly became a favorite among the volunteers. Because of his back story and his weight, he was initially thought to be an old dog. But put on a strict diet and exercise regime by the staff, Charlie quickly lost about 15 pounds. The dog who was at first judged to be an old codger, was rapidly growing younger by the day. The vet pronounced him only about 5 or 6 years old.

This volunteer, who had recently lost her old, beloved Keeshond (also rescued from said shelter) loved Charlie and began to think about adopting him. The other volunteer trainers (an opinionated lot to be sure!) urged me on, knowing I had a soft spot for the older, less cute, unpopular dogs. Charlie has been with me more that three years now. He tests me daily, trying to convince me that it is HE who is in charge of the household. I resist, walking him, correcting him, telling him otherwise.

But in the telling, he has come to know that he is home. He sleeps next to me, waits for me in the bathroom as I shower before work, greets me at the door, and wags and sits on a dime when I give the slightest indication that a walk is being thought of.

Charlie leaves his fur EVERYWHERE. He is not a "no-shedding dog" by any stretch of the imagination. He deposits clumps of his curly red and white fur whenever he decides to lie down, scratch or move about. I brush him. I really do! But the fur keeps coming, in a non-stop surge. I brushed Charlie tonight, a ritual he is fine with (thankfully) and I collected enough fur to make another Charlie.

So tonight we sat together on the deck, me brushing him and him sitting patiently. The fur I took away could stuff a pillow. The torches kept the bugs away and the Christmas lights strung along the eastern fence gave off a festive glow. Fine simple moments on a routine weekday. Charlie doesn't know or care what day it is. He doesn't mind the weather and is happy to have the same dinner over and over(stolen food discounted). He is my friend and my companion, hopefully for many years to come.